Diversity and inclusion are hugely important for children growing up. Kids want to see themselves reflected in the toys they play with - childhood should be an inclusive place, where every child belongs regardless of gender, ethnicity or ability.
Wildlife Photographer Mia, one of the new stars of the Lottie Dolls line-up, is the first ever fashion doll that wears a cochlear implant. The doll is the first time a doll manufacturer has mass-produced a doll wearing a cochlear implant, with the introduction of Wildlife Photographer Mia, Arklu the maker of Lottie Dolls hope to provide options to the general public to normalise the representation of people with different abilities in the toys that they play with.
Although Mia wears a cochlear implant, this is simply a small part of her story, rather than a focal point. A keen photographer, the Mia character also has a mission to encourage children to take an interest in nature and wildlife.
Mia was created following consultation with 'Toy Like Me', a UK non-profit who campaign for diversity in the toy-box and for better representation of disabilities so that differently-abled children can see themselves reflected in the toys they play with. ToyLikeMe was set up in 2015 by former BBC journalist and children's writer, Rebecca Atkinson, who wears hearing aids herself.
“When I was growing up in the 80s,” says Rebecca Atkinson, of 'Toy Like Me', who wears hearing aids herself, “I never saw any deaf characters in toys, books or on TV. When I became a mum myself, I decided it was time things changed. I wanted the global toy industry to act, to better represent the 150 million children worldwide with disability and difference.”
“This Mia doll is my childhood dream come true,” says Rebecca, “I’m so happy, I’m like a kid at Christmas! I hope it will help many deaf children grow positive self-esteem to see their experiences included by the mainstream toy industry.”
Psychologist Dr Sian Jones from Goldsmiths, University of London has studied the effects of playing with toys with disabilities on the attitudes of non-disabled children. Interviewing hundreds of children, she found that after playing with toys like the Mia doll, children were more open to forming friendships with peers with disability and difference.
Mia the Wildlife Photographer has been acknowledged in the International Design Awards, receiving both an Honourable Mention and a Silver. "A great product has the potential to be life-changing. It can be simultaneously beautiful and innovative, useful and creative, designed to solve a problem, make life easier or simply spread joy. At the International Design Awards, we want to reward the strategic thinking and imagination which goes into making a product which will be used, valued and perhaps even loved by its target market."
Lottie Dolls celebrated their 5th anniversary this year by announcing that, going forward, kids will be contributing to the design of every doll via their monthly design competition. For more information visit our competition Inspired by Real Kids Competition webpage!
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